10 marzo 2015

Interview with Bev Vincent

Bev on the set of the TV show Haven
In conjunction with the italian release of Revival on March 17th, I interviewed for my italian blog Bev Vincent, author of many books on Stephen King, among which 'Stephen King Illustrated Companion', that won the London Book Festival in 2009.

Click here for the italian version








Stephen King Only: Welcome, Bev. When did you start dealing with the works of Stephen King?

Bev Vincent: I started writing about King's work formally in 2001. Cemetery Dance magazine had been on a hiatus at the time. When editor/publisher Rich Chizmar relaunched the magazine, he asked if I would be interested in writing the column of King reviews, news and commentary that has appeared in it pretty much since the biginning. I was flattered to be asked, and I've been writing 'News from the Dead Zone' for them ever since. We also have an online version (www.NewsFromTheDeadZone.com) where you can find the most current news summarize on an irregular basis.


Stephen King Only: Explain your work method in detail.

Bev Vincent: I get up at 5 am every weekday and work on whatever writing projects need my attention at the moment. I continue until about 7:30, at which point I have to get ready for my day job. There's usually a 30-minute exercise session in there, too, either at the beginning or the end. On weekends, I work when I have time, so long as there's nothing else going on around the house.
I have a checklist of deadlines and pioritize based on which one is the soonest and where I am inspired the most. Non-fiction is actually easier than fiction, because it doesn't really require creative inspiration. There's work to do and you do it. Writing short stories is harder because you need to have the motivation and the idea to get going, and that can take time. It's something you can't force.


Stephen King Only: How difficult was it to work on 'The Dark Tower'?

Bev Vincent: It was a big project, that's for sure. When I wrote The Road to the Dark Tower, the final three books had not yet been published. King provided me with the first draft manuscripts of those novels, and then the edited versions as they became available. So I was working in a kind of vacuum. I couldn't discuss the series as a whole with anyone else, because no one else had read it. I had to read the entire series several times. Each time I did, I was looking for something different: character details, timeline information, etc. I was armed with a different-colored highlighter each time, so that I could later go back through the books and harvest the information into something meaningful in my book.
Then I had to wrangle all that information into a book that you could sit down and read, almost like a novel. It was a learning experience and I was fortunate to have a terrific editor who was as enthusiastic about the project as I was.

Then, when I wrote the follow-up book, The Dark Tower Companion, I had to look at the series in a different light. Instead of assuming that my audience had finished the series, I proceeded as if they hadn't read any of it. Rather than digging deep for intricate details, I wanted to explore the bigger picture and provide a reference guide for people who might have been introduced to the series by the Marvel comics, or by news of the possibility of a movie. A very different approach, so I had to go back at the series again (and it had grown by a novel in the interim) a few more times.



Stephen King Only: Many readers are surprised that Jack Sawyer (Black House) has no role in the Dark Tower saga. Do you think he would have deserved it?

Bev Vincent: If King and Straub have their way, we aven't heard the last of Jack Sawyer. They want to write a third book in the series and, given the way that Black House ended, most of it would be set in the Territories, which are a region whose connection to Mid-World isn't well established. I'll be interested to see what kind of adventures he has there as an adult. Who he might encounter.
However, I can't say that I was surprised or disappointed that he didn't feature into Roland's saga. While King and Straub used Black House to explore the Dark Tower mythology a little bit, these are really two different stories. If Jack had become part of Roland's ka-tet, it would have upset the power balance, I think. Jack is a pretty formidable guy, too. He and Roland might not have gotten along all that well!


Stephen King Only 'The Stephen King Illustrated Companion' is more than a book, it contains reproductions of first drafts and early copies of the manuscripts. How did you have the idea for this book?

Bev Vincent: I wish I could take credit for the idea. Barnes and Noble, a big US bookstore chain, had contracted with a book packager called becker&mayer! in the past to create readers companions to the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Austen, and they decided to do one on King. The editor at becker&mayer! was familiar with The Road to the Dark Tower, so they contacted me to see if I would be interested in writing the text. All of their books are "design intensive", with lots of photographs and additional material. They sent me a few examples so I could see what they had in mind, and I loved the concept.
Their documents researcher and I stayed  in close contact during the project. He made a trip to Bangor to visit King's office, where he was given access to photos never before seen, and to King's archives at the University of Maine. He selected material that complemented the text I was working on, emailing me pdfs of the things he was considering, for my feedback. He also visited a collector who has some amazing, rare material that was included in the book. When I saw the finished product, I was impressed and pleased by how well it turned out, and the book has been very popular among fans and collectors.


Stephen King Only: Are you working on any new project?

Bev Vincent: I'm always working on something! I have several pieces of fiction that will be coming out this year or next, depending on scheduling, including a story in The X-Files universe for an anthology edited by Jonathan Maberry, a round-robin novelette for Cemetery Dance (sections were written by Ray Garton, Kealan Patrick Burke, Rich Chizmar and me), and a novella, my longest piece of fiction to be published yet, that will be paired with one written by Brian Keene in a book called Dissonant Harmonies. We each prepared a playlist of songs for the other writer to listen to while writing our novellas, so that was an interesting process. Our musical tastes overlap a little, but are very different in general.


Stephen King Only: Do you think that in the future other works of yours will be published in Italy?

Bev Vincent: I hope so. I have little control over such things. My work has been translated into Russian and Dutch, too, but it's very much on a case-by-case basis. I was sure that a German or Spanish publisher would be interested in one of the Dark Tower books, but no luck, and the italian publisher is the only one to take on The Stephen King Illustrated Companion.


Stephen King Only: I know that you are collaborating on 'Stephen King Revisited', the project of the founder of Cemetery Dance Publications Richard Chizmar, which is re-reading King's books in chronological order. How is it going?

Bev Vincent: It's going along very well. We're up to The Stand (the original version) at the moment. I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm not actually re-reading the books - only Rich is. I'm researching the historical context behind each book: where was King at the time he wrote it (geographically and career-wise), what was going on in his life, what were the book's influences and anything else interesting I can dig up about the publication of the novel. These essays are generally published a little before Rich posts his comments about the book, to lay the foundation. We also have guest essayists providing their memories or thoughts about the current book, so that's a lot of fun, too.
The response so far has been very positive. Someday, when we've made it to the end, these essays may all be collected into a book. That's our hope, anyway. We've got a long way to go yet, though. For any of your readers who are interested in joining us on the journey, the site is at http://www.stephenkingrevisited.com/. It's an interactive journey; we're glad to get feedback from others.


Stephen King Only: What are your favorite books of the Uncle? And the worst one?

Bev Vincent: It's funny - I have a hard time picking favorites. I could come up with a top ten - in no particular order - but I don't think I could ever rank his books by favorites. My top ten list would include books like Bag of Bones, Lisey's Story, 'Salem's Lot, The Dead Zone, Pet Sematary, 11/22/'63 and The Shining, but the remaining slots would probably change depending on when you asked me. I'm enjoying the new crime trilogy he's working on that started with Mr. Mercedes, for example.
However, I have no trouble picking out the ones I'm less than fond of: The Tommyknockers, Needful Things and Cell, all for different reasons.


Stephen King Only: With Revival, which is about to be released in Italy: should we expect a King in great shape?

Bev Vincent: Revival is different from most of King's works in some ways. I don't think there's another of his novels that covers such a long span of time in someone's life, for starters. Also, even though this book is being billed as terrifying, with comparisons to Pet Sematary, the prevailing mood is one of gradually building dread. It's not until you get to the end that the terrible stuff starts happening, and then it becomes a very disturbing book. I'd say he's in great shape!


Stephen King Only: Thank you very much, Bev, for your availability and kindness.

Bev Vincent: It was my pleasure - always delighted to talk with people about writing!


 Bev Vincent's official website: www.bevvincent.com





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